If you’ve been following my writing for a while, you know I’m very into healthy living and that includes keeping your weight in check and exercising. On August 10, Acorn Media Group released a new DVD that instantly grabbed my attention called The Diets that Time Forgot. This is essentially a reality series that originally aired in the UK on their Channel Four in March of 2008 but has never been seen here in the United States.
Nine overweight people (six women and three men) come to a gorgeous Victorian country home that has been made into a 1900s-style health spa. For 24 days, these people wear period dress and practice weight loss programs and exercises popular in one of three time periods depending on which group they are assigned to. There are three people in each team who compete to see who can lose the most weight. They are assigned to either the Victorian group, the Edwardian group, or the Roaring Twenties group.
The Victorian group eats what is basically a low carb diet. They have lots of meats and some veggies but almost no carbohydrates. The Edwardians can eat whatever they want to but they have to chew each mouthful 32 times before they can swallow it. The Roaring Twenties group follows a calorie controlled diet and many of their meals consist of fruits and salads.
Exercises for the various groups include period dancing, walking, calisthenic-type exercises, cold baths, and military drills for the men. The clothes are gorgeous and really made the women more aware of their bodies, their posture, and their shape. Women’s waists a century ago were about 10 inches smaller than today and the average man was about 20 pounds lighter.
Each of the episodes (six total on two DVDs) focuses on a different aspect of weight loss and physical fitness. The program is hosted by Sir Roy Strong, a historian who is in great physical shape and believes that much of our problem today with being overweight is because we are lazy and lack self control.
Sir Roy regularly “tempts” the participants with trips into town. He gives everyone spending money and then is surprised when they steal away to the pub for a pint of beer or the candy shop for chocolate. He sets up a table of shame several times at dinner time where he puts tempting foods like cheese cake, chocolates, beer, etc. to test the participants’ self-control. Of course, some of them have very little self control so it’s no surprise when they choose to eat those foods instead of the healthy period food they should be eating.
As you can imagine, the weight loss program is very difficult for most of the members. They are quite out of shape — most at least 50-75 lbs overweight. They haven’t had any exercise for years and have no self-control to refuse the tempting foods they should be refusing. Many of the women are used to wearing only baggy, form-hiding sweat suit type outfits and have a real problem wearing the gorgeous dresses, corsets, undergarments, and hoops a proper lady used to wear.
Just as a little warning if you’re considering watching this DVD: one episode features quite a bit of nudity as they spend part of an episode nude because the Victorians believed in fresh air and sunlight to help people feel their best. There’s also quite a bit of swearing throughout the series. Also, one episode focuses on the participants’ bowels and lack of regularity and includes rather icky pictures of poo and one of an enema. Although it doesn’t show any nudity, it was rather unpleasant to watch.
All in all, this is a fantastic series. If you like programs like The 1900 House and The Biggest Loser, you will really enjoy this one. I absolutely loved it and will be watching it over and over again but I’ll be fast forwarding through a few sections.